Reimposition of MECQ in Metro Manila necessary - DOT

Despite possible effects on tourism, the Department of Tourism (DOT) said the transition of Mega Manila to stricter community quarantine levels following the pleas from healthcare workers is necessary.

DOT Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat (MANILA BULLETIN FILE PHOTO)

“This move aims to ensure our medical capacities are in check and in place,” tourism chief Bernadette Romulo-Puyat said in a text message.

The DOT chief noted that the Inter-Agency Task Force for Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) will soon discuss in detail the recalibration of the existing MECQ guidelines given the transition.  

“This includes sectors in tourism like accommodation enterprises and restaurants currently allowed to operate and contribute to the economy during quarantine,” she said.

The IATF has allowed the reopening of dine-in establishments in June operating at 30 percent capacity after the transition of NCR to GCQ. 

In the case of hotels, the industry never ceased operations as it was assisting the national government on its repatriation efforts to house returning migrant workers and Filipinos who will undergo the mandatory 14-day quarantine.

Some also serve as quarantine facilities for asymptomatic and positive patients, as well as shelters for frontline workers.

“In the IATF-EID discussions, the DOT always positions the best interest of the industry in light of prevailing circumstances. The department is consistently one with the Task Force in striking the best balance between health and economic concerns,” Puyat stressed.  

Healthcare workers from several medical organizations appealed to the president on Saturday to place Mega Manila, composed of  Metro Manila, CALABARZON, Central Luzon, and Mimaropa, back to a stricter form of community quarantine, citing "burn out." 

With the recommendation from Health Secretary Francisco Duque III, President Duterte approved on Sunday the 15-day transition of NCR and other parts of Central Luzon and CALABARZON (Cavite-Laguna-Batangas-Rizal-Quezon) from general community quarantine (GCQ) to modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ).

Jose Clemente III, president of the Tourism Congress of the Philippines (TCP) said the decision is “a cause of concern” to tourism stakeholders but given the current situation, he added: “We stand by our medical frontliners and workers and know that they truly need the break.”

“The decision directly affects the NCR but not necessarily the other destinations who have downgraded community quarantines. This is the reason we and the DOT are looking into travel bubbles as a way of circumventing highly affected gateways and use more of our provincial gateways that have lesser risks,” he maintained.